Administration

Biden scolds Republicans for not wearing masks during Capitol attack

President-elect Joe Biden on Friday admonished Republican lawmakers who did not wear face masks while huddling in a secure location during the mob attack on the U.S. Capitol last week despite the threat of coronavirus.  

"Quite frankly it was shocking to see members of the Congress while the Capitol was under siege by a deadly mob of thugs refuse to wear a mask while they were in secure locations," Biden said during remarks to announce his vaccine plan in Wilmington, Del.

"What the hell is the matter with them? It's time to grow up," Biden continued. "For God's sake, wear a mask if not for yourself, for your loved ones, for your country."

At least four members of Congress have tested positive for COVID-19 since the attack by a pro-Trump mob last week. Some House Republicans were seen in holding rooms not wearing face coverings despite the pandemic. 

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), a 75-year-old cancer survivor, was among those who recently tested positive. She blamed her illness on her "Republican colleagues' inability to accept facts" in a Washington Post op-ed published earlier this week.

Public health experts for months have touted masks as a critical tool for stopping the asymptomatic spread of COVID-19, but the practice has become politicized in part due to President Trump's frequent refusal to wear one in public.

Biden reiterated Friday that he plans to call on all Americans to wear masks for his first 100 days in office. He said he will sign an executive order to mandate masks where he has the authority to do so - such as on federal property - and ask governors and mayors to implement orders requiring masks. A number of states and localities already have such orders in place.

Biden said it was "stupid" that mask use had become a partisan issue, and noted that scientists believe that widespread mask use could save tens of thousands of lives between now and the spring.

"I hope we now know this is not a political issue, this is about saving lives," Biden said. "This is a patriotic act. We are asking you, we are in a war with this virus."

Outbrain